LaKind J.S.,a LaKind Associates LLC |
Goodman M.,a LaKind Associates LLC |
Makris S.L.,a LaKind Associates LLC |
Mattison D.R.,a LaKind Associates LLC
Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part B, Critical reviews | Year: 2015
In observational research, evidence is usually derived from multiple studies, and any single result is rarely considered sufficient for public health decision making. Despite more than five decades of research and thousands of studies published, the ability to draw robust conclusions regarding the presence or absence of causal links between specific environmental exposures and human health remains limited. To develop policies that are protective of public health and can withstand scrutiny, agencies need to rely on investigations of satisfactory quality that follow sufficiently concordant protocols in terms of exposure assessment, outcome ascertainment, data analysis, and reporting of results. Absent such concordance, the ability of environmental epidemiology studies to inform decision making is greatly diminished. Systems and tools are proposed here to improve concordance among environmental epidemiology studies. Specifically, working systems in place in other fields of research are critically examined and used as guidelines to develop analogous policies and procedures for environmental epidemiology. A three-part path forward toward more concordant, transparent, and readily accessible environmental epidemiology evidence that parallels ongoing efforts in medical research is proposed. The three parts address methods for improving quality and accessibility of systematic reviews, access to information on ongoing and completed studies, and principles for reporting. The goals are to increase the value of epidemiological research in public health decision making and to stimulate discussions around solutions proposed herein.